Asset Publisher

Host Research Group

FR16_Soft Matter : Structure and Dynamics M2SD_Carlos Drummond

Carlos Drummond

+33 0556845612

Group description

The M2SD team brings together physicists and physical chemists whose research activities revolve around basic studies in the field of soft matter. The team’s research subjects boil down to both multi-scale and multi-physical approaches to describe the behavior of soft matter systems in a broad sense. Our research covers a wide variety of systems ranging from molecular (polymers, nucleic acids, proteins, etc.) to finely divided media (colloids, granules, suspensions, gels, etc.) in bulk, at interfaces, or in highly confined geometries. The structure and dynamics of the studied systems are examined at different spatial and temporal scales (local and global behavior) to better understand the complex phenomena involved. Ongoing research projects are related to DNA origami-based biosensors, electroresponsive surfaces, and elastohydrodynamic, elasto-capillary, and elasto-electrostatic coupling.


The M2SD team at CRPP has full access to state-of-the-art experimental instrumentation including:

(1) Film preparation and treatment: Spin-coaters, dip-coater, spray coating robots, plasma cleaner, UV-ozone chamber, vacuum ovens, Langmuir troughs.

(2) Surface characterization: state-of-the art Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), Surface Forces Apparatus (SFA), Scanning Electron Microscope, Transmission Electron Microscope, Spectroscopic and Imaging Ellipsometry,and  Small angle X-ray scattering.

 (3) Polymer characterization: DSC, light scattering, dielectric spectroscopy, Raman Spectroscopy, UV-vis spectroscopy. In addition, we have access to modern facilities of X-ray photoelectron and Auger spectroscopy.


  • Soft Matter
  • Interfaces
  • Capillary Interactions
  • DNA origami
  • Surface Forces
  • Colloidal systems
  • Wetting
  • Scattering
  • Fluid Dynamics

Team Description

  • Drummond, Carlos (Principal Investigator)

    ORCID: 0000-0003-4834-3259

  • Elezgaray, Juan (Co-Principal Investigator)

    ORCID: 0000-0001-7356-0103

  • Loudet, Jean-Christophe (Co-Principal Investigator)

  • Nallet, Frederic (Co-Principal Investigator)

  • Dole, Francois (Co-Principal Investigator)

  • Cluzeau, Philippe (Co-Principal Investigator)

  • Pécastaings, Gilles (Research staff)


  • Soft Membrane Interferometric Stress Sensor

    Pl: Carlos Drummond

    Funding Agency*: ANR/Nat

    Ongoing: yes

  • MicroRNA detection using DNA nanopores

    Pl: Juan Elezgaray

    Funding Agency*: CRC/Int

    Ongoing: yes

  • MicroRNA detection using DNA nanopores

    Pl: Juan Elezgaray

    Funding Agency*: ITMO Cancer Aviesan/Inserm/Nat

    Ongoing: yes

  • Colloidal Particles in Elasto-Capillary fields

    Pl: Jean-Christophe Loudet

    Funding Agency*: European Marie-Curie grant/Int

    Ongoing: no

* INT - International EU - European NAT - National RE - Regional


  • Mills et al., = A modular spring-loaded actuator for mechanical activation of membrane proteins, Nature Communications, 2022

  • Yang et al., = Detection of Short DNA Sequences with DNA Nanopores, ChemPhysChem, 2022

  • Senechal et al., = Electroresponsive Weak Polyelectrolyte Brushes, Macromolecules, 2022

  • Richter et al., = Ions in an AC electric field: Strong long-range repulsion between oppositely charged surfaces, Physical Review Letters, 2020

  • Bepete et al., = Additive-Free Single Layer Graphene in Water, Nature Chemistry, 2017

Research Lines


Molecular detection based on DNA nanopores

We develop nucleic acid sensors based on DNA nanopores. These nanostructures can insert into lipid membranes, making quite stable holes. Their size can be modulated by the presence of specific oligonucleotides (DNA or RNA). The associated change in conductance can be measured at the level of single nanopores. We currently develop microfluidic approaches to make this detection robust and adapted to point-of-care diagnostics. We are also interested in expanding the detection possibilities by the use of aptamers.

Electro-responsive polyelectrolyte-coated surfaces

The development of strategies for tuning surface properties within short time scales may lead to a paradigm change in the way we think about them. They may become active responsive elements having multiple functionalities, which may find use in applications like sensors or actuators. Anchoring macromolecules at solid surfaces is an efficient way to modify their interfacial properties. The M2SD team at CRPP has recently shown that the conformation of polyelectrolyte coatings can be manipulated by using an external electric field, as a consequence of the ionic charge of the polyions. By dynamically tuning the conformation of the polyelectrolyte, local wettability, adhesion, and lubrication can be actively manipulated. This project is inspired by concepts of surface responsiveness for the generation of smart polymer-based materials. The goal is to achieve active control of surface properties, aiming for directed material transport under confinement over sizable distances of a few cm. We want to explore new methods of drops or particle guidance by the combination of designed material microstructure and a controlled application of a complementary stimulus.

Soft Lubrication: a Biomimetic Strategy for Friction and Wear Control

The remarkable lubrication properties of mammalian articular joints are widely recognized. However, there is no consensus yet about the mechanism(s) responsible for that ultra-low friction property. While numerous studies have attempted to link the lubrication of joints to the composition of the synovial fluid, less effort has been devoted to investigating the influence of cartilage. The vast majority of studies have studied the operation of synovial fluid components confined between hard, essentially non-deformable walls. However, cartilages are soft, with a complex organized structure. As the shearing of the confined synovial fluid can generate large pressures, substantial deformations of the surfaces can materialize, suggesting that elastohydrodynamic effects have to be considered to understand the frictional contact behavior of these compliant surfaces under shear. The main goal of the project is to establish the relationship between the elastic properties of the substrates, the molecular structures of the lubricant boundary layers, and the behaviors of two compliant surfaces under compression and shear. This knowledge may lead to new strategies for engineering soft surfaces as smart, frictionless bearing components (e.g. novel strategies for the optimization of joint prosthesis)

Cross-border Collaboration (if any)

We believe that collaborative efforts with the BIOMICs microfluidics Team, led by Pr. Prof. Lourdes Basabe could be of great interest. Initial discussions in this direction have been engaged